The RCGP in Northern Ireland have presented the college’s 300,000 signatory petition calling for general practice’s share of the NHS budget to be increased to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
There were 16,208 signatories from Northern Ireland – the highest per population of any of the UK countries – and members of the Assembly were presented with the petition on 24 November.
The RCGP, through its UK-wide ‘Put patients first’ campaign, is calling for the proportion of funding received by general practice to be increased to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. Currently GPs provide 90% of patient contacts for 8.3% of the health budget.
The RCGP NI chair, Dr John O’Kelly, warned: ‘We are approaching a perfect storm in general practice…The situation looks set to get worse unless the government urgently acts. Northern Ireland already has the lowest GP coverage in the UK at only 6.4 GPs per 10,000 population. Added to this, we also have the oldest GP workforce in the UK as almost one quarter of GPs are over 55 years old.
‘Every patient should be able to get an appointment with their GP or practice nurse when they want and need one. GPs are working harder than ever to try and meet the demand and provide the type of care which patients deserve.’